Bacteria cause dental disease.
These organisms thrive in a dry, acidic mouth and cause bad breath,
plaque build-up, gingivitis, and weakened teeth. Acids from bacteria
erode tooth enamel which leads to sensitivity, cavities and
Mouth Acidity + Dry Mouth = Cavities and Dental Disease
||Enamel is a living membrane
that can be easily softened and demineralized by acids.
Dentists cannot stop enamel damage - only removing the
acidity can prevent damage.
Mouth acidity is measured in the pH of saliva. A pH above
7.0 is a safe, alkaline state. A pH below 7.0, it is acidic. The
root surfaces of teeth can be damaged when acidity drops below 6.5
and tooth enamel erodes if levels fall to pH 5.5. The longer teeth
remain in acidic saliva, the greater the damage from
demineralization. Yet, when saliva levels are alkaline, teeth can
strengthen and repair through a natural process of tooth
remineralization. The longer the mouth pH remains alkaline, the
greater opportunity for teeth to repair themselves.
Mouth pH can fluctuate for a number of reasons related to diet, body
chemistry and hormones, climate, or mouth dryness. Anything that
causes a drop in the mouth pH to make it acidic or to cause mouth
dryness is a risk factor for dental disease. The greater your risk
for dental disease, the more protection you will need to keep your
teeth safe from damage.
To understand and control mouth acidity, it is useful to test for
saliva pH. You can easily keep the mouth in an alkaline state by
eating xylitol. Xylitol protects teeth from mouth acidity and helps
remineralize and repair them.
When you bite into a lemon you naturally produce saliva in your
mouth. This is nature’s way to wash away the acidity and protect
your teeth. Without help from saliva the acids in your mouth would
dissolve calcium out of your teeth.
Saliva brings calcium and minerals to the tooth and helps repair any
damage. It takes about 20-30 minutes for nature to dilute and remove
the damaging acids from your mouth. This graph illustrates how
acidity puts your mouth below a safe level but there is natural
recovery over time.
Problems occur if you drink more acid before the mouth has
recovered. Constant sipping can keep the mouth in an acid state for
hours and in this way teeth are damaged. This graph illustrates the
way frequent sipping can keep the mouth at damaging levels.
Damage in a dry mouth
AAnyone with a dry mouth will be at greater risk of tooth damage.
Without saliva there is no natural response to wash away the acids.
People with blocked noses or who breathe through their mouths have
less saliva. Allergies, sinus problems, exercise or even sleep can
put you at risk for acid damage.
mouths offer greater risk of dental damage. While some dry mouth is
permanent, caused by disease or radiation damage, everyone wakes
with a dry mouth following sleeping, when less saliva is produced,
so everyone shares this risk.